Usually, panel manufacturers rely on the optimisation systems which come with a sawing system.
“However, saw manufacturers address a wide clientele, from saws for joinery companies to cutting systems for the plastics and gypsum industry and that is why the accompanying optimisation systems are often not aligned with the specific needs of wood based panel manufacturers,claims Roland Schramme, managing partner of Altanis, whose business is in optimization systems.
“What causes problems is the maximization of throughput and capacity for 24/7 operations; the online integration of cutting systems of other manufacturers; the online integration with ERP/PPS systems and a simple implementation of the extensive packaging instructions of customers.”
Furthermore, Mr Schramme asserts that the trend towards a declining size of orders reduces throughput and increases cutting: “Very often, order-specific production costs cannot be calculated and the optimization system delivers complex cutting plans which are not cost-optimised and take a very long time to cut,he says.
This is the focus of Altanis’ solution ‘pCUT’ for wood based panel manufacturers – streamlining the production process while at the same time reducing cost.
“The success of pCUT has already been proved by a number of well-known panel manufacturers. For instance Pfleiderer Engineered Wood of Neumarkt, Germany has deployed pCUT successfully in three plants,says Mr Schramme in a claim backed up by his customer: “The implementation of Altanis pCUT was amortised after six months,says Martin Rong, executive director of Pfleiderer Engineered Wood. “And further on, the quality of the value  chain has been improved significantly.”
In order to achieve profitable prices, it is of course necessary to know the cost of the product. The key component of that is the production cost, which is itself composed of machine cost, raw material (input and clipping) cost and packaging cost. Very often, claims Mr Schramme, these costs are not known in detail but are calculated using empirically acquired average values, which are neither customer- , nor order-specific. The knowledge of single aspects like average clipping, mean stacking height or number of cut cycles is not sufficient for an accurate and order-specific cost calculation in the panel manufacturing process, he says, and, therefore, the customer- and order-specific costs of panel manufacturing cannot be calculated before production starts.
“Because of the inadequate knowledge of the production cost, customer prices cannot be calculated according to the true costs of production. Therefore, unprofitable orders could be accepted while profitable orders might be rejected,says Mr Schramme.
With the detailed calculation of the order-specific production costs, Altanis claims the following targets can be reached:

  • Reduction of production costs
  • Improvement of pricing quality
  • Assurance of and increase in profitability in panel production.

“The cut-to-size optimisation system pCUT supports the process chain from sales via production preparation and production all the way to controlling with the all-important cost data,says Mr Schramme.
“The optimisation core of pCUT was developed with the target of reducing production costs. Therefore, the optimization algorithm uses a cost-based approach for the calculation of the cutting plans. Costs are assigned to each cut and to each segmentation.
“The head cut, for instance, is usually associated with high costs if the cutting system takes a long time to perform it. A set of rules and options, which need to be adjusted for each cutting system, defines the respective costs which are used in the optimization core,he explains.
“Therefore, pCUT not only delivers bestin-class cut plans with least required input – compared to other optimisation systems pCUT reduces material input by up to 4% – but especially quick-to-cut plans.”
An integral part of Altanis’ optimization is the exact knowledge of the machine time. Only if this can be calculated during the optimisation can production costs be calculated accurately, says the company.
Since each make of cutting machinery differs greatly from another, an accurate analysis of the cutting process is often required to achieve the required accuracy of 95% for the calculation of the cutting time.
The goal of the optimisation is maximizing throughput while minimising material use, as shown.
A substantial value enhancement can be obtained through using cutting optimisation in sales as a quotation-generation and pricing tool, claims Altanis; thus the sales department can calculate the cost per order in the quotation phase and customer prices can be made profitable from the beginning.
“Besides better pricing quality, the knowledge of the cut plans can be used to improve the orders,continues Mr Schramme. “Thus the panel manufacturer can work with his customer on improving the orders by changing panel quantities, positions or by using optional falling pieces. This improvement is designed to benefit both the panel manufacturer and his customer, with better pricing quality leading to higher customer retention, because the orders are tailored to the production process of the panel manufacturer.”
Once a database of production costs has been established, comprehensive analyses of profitability and costs can be performed, he explains. Sales and management can then use this information for controlling tasks and corporate management. For instance, detailed analyses of the profitability per customer, the costs per manufacturing plant or the costs per cutting system are said to be possible.
Large panel manufacturers often use a multitude of different cutting systems with different optimisation solutions, explains Mr Schramme.
“Different optimisation systems however, hinder further process improvements and require unnecessary investments, for example for integration with the production  planning system of the panel manufacturer.
Another reason to refrain from using different optimisation systems is the highly variable optimisation quality and the inability of many systems to interface to cutting machinery of competitor manufacturers,he says.
Altanis’ pCUT was developed independently from cutting machinery manufacturers right from the start, says the managing partner, who claims that the optimisation can be performed for all kinds of cutting systems.
“Direct online connection to a number of cutting machines is already in operation – for example SHS, Anthon, Schwabedissen, Giben, Holzma, Schelling – and it can be implemented for other systems as well.
“With an independent optimisation system, the panel manufacturer does not need to commit himself to the optimisation system of the cutting system manufacturer,continues Mr Schramme.
“The flexibility of pCUT to work with all different types of cutting machinery protects the investment in the optimisation system since new cutting systems can easily be integrated.
“A central and uniform optimisation system has tremendous advantages, especially when employing several different cutting systems: it uses fewer resources and the integration into a production planning system needs to be done only once. Thus, capital expenditure can be saved. pCUT allows you to select the best (eg the most cost-efficient) solution for production.”
In conclusion, Mr Schramme says: “The production cost of panel manufacturers can be greatly reduced using advanced optimization and cost controlling tools.
“Key areas for improvement are: detailed cost calculation in the manufacturing process through exact calculation of production time; incorporation of machine time, clipping, stacking and packaging; integration with the production planning system; synergies and investment protection through the use of a single optimisation system; and the detailed knowledge of the production cost, which enables the panel manufacturer to calculate profitable prices and to perform comprehensive controlling functions.”